The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from Johnson & Johnson after the pharmaceutical company sought to avoid paying $2 billion to women who say they developed ovarian cancer from using its talcum products, The Hill reported.
The justices did not elaborate on their decision, in which Brett Kavanaugh and Samuel Alito recused themselves.
Johnson & Jonson had sought an opinion from the Supreme Court in March after a Missouri court ordered the company to pay damages to 20 women. An initial judgment of $4.7 billion was lowered to $2 billion after two women were dropped from the case.
The controversy turns on the claim that the company’s talcum products contain carcinogenic asbestos. The company insists that its products are safe, but lawyers for the plaintiffs say that nine women who used them have died from ovarian cancer.
The company has complained that they should not have to face 20 plaintiffs from different states and backgrounds.
Johnson & Johnson expressed dismay with the Court’s dismissal, which they said left the matter unresolved.
“The decision by the court to not review the Ingham case leaves unresolved significant legal questions that state and federal courts will continue to face on issues related to due process rights and personal jurisdiction,” the company said.
J & J maintains products are safe
They insisted they would win the case if it the Court were to take it up, adding, “The Supreme Court has many times said that its decision to deny hearing a case expresses no view on the merits whatsoever, and we continue to believe that our view of the law and the facts will ultimately prevail.”
The company maintained that “decades of independent scientific evaluations confirm Johnson’s Baby Powder is safe.”
Johnson & Johnson removed talc from its products in 2020 after what it described as duplicitous publicity against the company from lawyers in the case.
A judge in Missouri previously accused Johnson & Johnson of “reprehensible conduct,” saying the “defendants knew of the presence of asbestos in products that they knowingly targeted for sale to mothers and babies, knew of the damage their products caused, and misrepresented the safety” of its products.
According to the AP, Alito may have recused himself because of the stock he owns in the company, and more tangentially, Kavanaugh’s father once lobbied against labeling talc a carcinogen.